Tributes paid to three killed in Stonehaven derailment

13 August 2020, 16:40

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Tributes have been paid to the three people who died after a train in Stonehaven derailed - including the train driver and conductor.

Train operator ScotRail yesterday confirmed that of the three people who died in the tragedy, one was train driver Brett McCullough and another the conductor, Donald Dinnie.

The name of the third victim - 62-year-old Christopher Stuchbury from Aberdeen - was released by Police Scotland on Thursday evening.

Four of the patients injured in the crash have been discharged from hospital, while two remain in hospital in a stable condition.

A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: "Following yesterday's major incident, four patients have been discharged from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Two remain in hospital, both are in stable condition."

Friends, family and colleagues of the three identified men have been paying tribute today as the reality of the tragedy becomes clearer.

A major operation remains underway as family and friends of the victims come to terms with the tragedy
A major operation remains underway as family and friends of the victims come to terms with the tragedy. Picture: PA Images

Bryan Pithie, a close friend of conductor Mr Dinnie, told LBC News: " I can't believe that Donald is gone, he was a good chap with a heart of gold.

"Everybody loved him and he always had time for people - even on the train going anywhere he would come and sit beside us and have good craic.

Mr Pithie expressed his sadness about not being able to have a drink with Donald - a plan they had made together once Covid-19 had settled.

He added: "It's not hit me quite just now, but I think it will, but tonight I'm going to have a drink for him in the house...for him, the driver and the families."

The family of the passenger who died, Mr Stuchbury, said they were "devastated by his death".

A statement released by Police Scotland said: "Chris was a much adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, granddad, brother and uncle and was a treasured and loved friend to many, including the Targe Towing Team where he was an integral and valued member of staff.

"He also volunteered at Roxburghe House in Aberdeen during his spare time which he thoroughly enjoyed doing.

"We are devastated by his death and we request privacy at this difficult time as we come to terms with our loss."

Train drivers' union Aslef's organiser in Scotland, Kevin Lindsay, said Mr McCullough was servicing the gas boiler of the train when he and a driver started chatting about the job and he decided to join the railways.

He said: "He was a dedicated train driver, who loved his job, and was very popular at the depot with his colleagues.

"He was also a devoted family man who loved his wife and children - two girls and a boy. Brett thought the world of his family, and we all thought the world of him."

Dozens of emergency service vehicles, including an air ambulance, were called to the scene in Stonehaven at about 9.40am on Wednesday, where it is understood a locomotive and three carriages derailed and slid down an embankment due to a landslip caused by heavy rainfall.

Sources, including Aslef, suggest the train then caught fire, but the specifics of the incident remain unclear.

An official investigation is underway by Scotland's Crown Office to determine the cause of the accident and how each of the three deaths occurred.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps express his shock at the tragedy
Transport secretary Grant Shapps express his shock at the tragedy. Picture: PA Images

Visiting the scene of the derailment, transport secretary Grant Shapps thanked emergency services who have been dealing with the incident and paid tribute to the friends and family of the people caught up in the tragedy.

He said: "It's a horrendous scene. I've been up in the helicopter to see it from above.

"To see it with your own eyes gives you the full extent of what appears to have happened yesterday morning and my heart just goes out to the friends and family of the people who've been caught up in this horrendous accident."

The Royal Family also spoke out following the incident and expressed with the families of the victims and those who were injured.

In a message the Queen sent to the lord lieutenant of Kincardineshire, she wrote: "It was with great sadness that I heard of the train derailment earlier today in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.

"The duke of Edinburgh, and the entire Royal Family, join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have died and those who have been injured.

"Our thanks go out to the emergency services for their response and dedication."